Sunday, March 22, 2015
Adultery and the Marriage Bond
Recently, the law criminalizing adultery was found “unconstitutional” by the Constitutional Court of Korea. The results from the decision have been noisy. The Catholic Times has an article on the issue by a priest director of a research center on family. There is a fear, on the part of many, that the sexual act will be seen outside the context of marriage to the detriment of marriage.
The Constitutional Court said the criminalization of adultery infringes on the right of the sexual determination and privacy of the individual, and freedom in one's personal life; the duty of maintaining the family bond rests with the individuals in the marriage and not the government.
Times have changed and adultery is no longer a violation of the constitution, however, society is still swayed by Confucianism, and religion continues to influence society. In Catholicism marriage is the joining of husband and wife by God. Marriage opens a couple to be in service to life, realize the blessings of God in history, and share the image of God with others. In the marriage act the couple are cooperators with God in passing on life.
Sex is not merely a biological act but the way a husband and wife give themselves completely to each other, and relate to each other in one of the deepest manners. With sex the couple gives themselves to each other until death. "I promise to take you, N, to be my husband, I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love you and honor you all the days of my life." Catholics believe in the indissolubility of marriage and therefore for a Catholic divorce is not possible.
For the crime of adultery to be established it was necessary to assume divorce proceedings, had already begun. This was the practice in society. The partner who was suing for divorce, was saying they no longer were able to live with the person in the marriage bond. The Constitutional Court saw the question as one of legality and excessive punishment. There was no need for the nation to enter and punish adultery as a crime; it was a moral issue, where censure was in order and not a case for criminal law to solve.
No longer was adultery to be punished by law but was a question of morals and ethics and the concern of religious convictions and moral values. Seeing adultery as a crime was not an area the church had much to say. Adultery was seen in society as the beginning of divorce proceedings. Catholicism had higher values to follow, so the issue is not meaningful for the church.
We are sexual beings but not limited to this, we need to be directed to the spiritual. The church goes even beyond the act of adultery to the 9th commandment where even impure thoughts are forbidden. With the abolition of adultery as a crime, couples have to be concerned with the weakening of the marriage bond in society where pleasure of sex is the only issue, and the trend towards selfishness becomes paramount, consequently, the family needs to straightened the precious standards of family life.